Book Review: If This Is Paradise, I Want My Money Back by Claudia Carroll

If This Is Paradise, I Want My Money Back
Claudia Carroll
William Morrow, October 2011
ISBN 978-0-06-204515-7
Trade Paperback

Charlotte lies in a hospital bed, trapped by a coma, listening to the conversations around her. Most are directed at her in attempts to bring her back to consciousness and she appreciates the efforts, really she does, but a little peace and quiet would be nice, too. Between her best friend Fiona’s chatter about the latest guy she met on the internet and her mum’s blathering on about just about anything, not to mention the boring music they make her listen to, Charlotte just might stay down where it’s really rather nice.

None of them know the truth about what happened right before the car accident when her significant other, James, unceremoniously dumped her after five years and asked her how soon she could move out. Charlotte was clueless, had no idea he…hmm, she can’t quite remember but it’ll come to her…and, well, she’d ignored the fact that all her family and friends had disliked him from the beginning. Looking back, she guessed she should have paid attention.

And then James comes to see her and pours on the charm, trying his best to appear terribly concerned. Unfortunately for him, no one in the room is buying his act.  Then, listening to his BS, she remembers, the Other Woman. To top it all off, he takes a call from his new honey and starts with the sexy talk, right there beside Charlotte’s bed. That’s all it takes for her to see the bright light.

Charlotte finds herself apparently dead and about to be “assessed” by Regina Angelorum (who first has to take a call with Gabriel, THE Gabriel) to see whether she’s a candidate for the AWE programme—that’s Angelic Work Experience. Next thing she knows, she’s in a classroom, learning all she needs to know to be a guardian angel.

Then she gets her earthly assignment and she can hardly believe she’s right back on earth…in James’s house. Horrified at first at the idea that James is her charge, she soon learns that there is a way she can mess with him. Charlotte is delighted with her new-found abilities until the day she learns that being an angel is not all fun and games. Fortunately, there might be a way she can redeem herself.

This is a delightful mix of laughter and sorrow, anger and forgiveness and, above all, redemption. Ms. Carroll has crafted an intriguing story and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2011.